Monday 12 December 2011

Saffron Peach Cake

I appear to have found the baking bug, I blame Dan Lepard, every time I flick through his book I find something else to have a go at making. This one from the cake section leapt out at me last night and scanning through the ingredients I had nearly everything already in my cupboard...apart from saffron....jeez you need a bank loan to buy any of this stuff, £3.50 for half a gram! but no matter it's not as if buying it is a regular occurrence.

I am submitting this for Karen and Kate's Tea Time Treats challenge (Christmas theme, chosen by Kate) because it's a little different than the usual cakes at this time of year plus it's got icing sugar sprinkled on it so it looks like snow.....*clutches straw*

Recipe available here:

Soft, nutty, sweet, juicy.....oh just make it already it's blooming lovely.

Tuesday 6 December 2011

Espresso and Brazil Nut Cake

Like nearly every food blogger, amateur baker, cake lover and general worshipper of sweet stuff, recently I received  a copy of Dan Lepard's Short & Sweet. I currently have yet to find a bad review of this book and after finally getting round to making something from it, I cant imagine I will be the first. I've had this book a couple of weeks now and being chopping and changing with what I was going to bake first. After narrowing it down to the cake section, this one jumped out at me.

There is lot of debate about whether to put recipes from books on blogs nowadays and with this book being fairly recently published I decided not to publish the recipe for this cake. However after a quick Google search I found the recipe here on the Guardian Website but I highly recommend you buy this book.

Great choice I think for the first recipe, easy to make and with lovely flavours and texture. The coffee in the cake is subtle apart from the odd strong wave from the icing and the brazil nuts provide a superb texture to the cake crumb. My cake tins are a little bigger than the recommended, therefore mine is a little thinner than it should be, still tastes good though.

Thursday 24 November 2011

Buffalo and Beetroot Stew

I'm quite a fan of this time of year, gone are the light dishes and salads of summer and in come thick hearty stews and warming soups. The inspiration for this stew came from two separate markets, the spectacular Borough market of London town and the little deli market that crops up monthly in the stunning surroundings of Kirkstall Abbey of Leeds.

While having a wander around Kirkstall Deli, one of the stalls I visited was Snowden Hill Water Buffalo, which as the name suggests sells buffalo in various cuts and forms. Having never cooked with buffalo before I picked up a packet of shin meat for a bargain price of £2.50, planning to make some variety of stew with it. A week or so later while wandering around Borough Market, one of the veg stalls were selling bunches of beetroot for £1.50, so as with the buffalo I picked some up to have a go cooking with it.

With stews I generally follow a simple formula:

Meat + Veg + Alcohol + Long cooking time = a damn good stew.

This time, for the alcohol, I decided to continue with the Red theme and opted for a bottle of Merlot.

Buffalo and Beetroot Stew
500g Shin buffalo, diced and coated with 1 tbsp of flour (substitute with beef if you you cant get hold of any buffalo)
1 tbsp oil
1 Large onion, diced
2 Carrot, roughly chopped
2 Parsnips, roughly chopped
2 bulbs of beetroot, peeled and diced
1 400g tin of tomatoes
500ml Merlot or alternative red wine
Plenty of Thyme/Rosemary
Salt and Ground Black Pepper

Fry the onions for a few minutes in the oil until golden brown.

Several recipe books that I've read state that browning the meat is not necessary, but if you prefer then add it now and cook for a few minutes until browned.

Add the remainder of the dry veg and cook for 5 minutes until softened slightly.

If you didn't brown the meat add it now.
Pour in the wine and tinned tomatoes.
Season well and add lots of your choice of herbage.
Bring to the boil
Now you have a choice either stick a lid on and simmer on a gentle heat for 2-3 hours or transfer to a oven proof dish, cover with foil and place into a preheated oven at 160C for the same length of time.
Check occasionally and add a bit of water if its looking to dry.

Sit back with the remainder of the wine.

Remove from the oven and serve with fluffy mash or a jacket spud.

Absolutely fantastic, everything a autumn/winter stew should be and with a stunning deep red colour.

If you have leftovers, leave them in the fridge for 3 days, the flavour intensifies and it gets even better, after that then freeze it.

Considering the buffalo was the shin cut and had to be stewed, It hard to give an opinion on the flavour specifically. The texture is slightly different however, slightly softer and leaner. I will have to get a steak cut next time and try it properly.


Saturday 12 November 2011

Ginger and Cinnamon Doughnuts

A new blogger challenge that has started this month is Tea Time Treats, hosted by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked. the inaugural theme this month is Ginger and bonfire treats. So I thought I would enter.

Having just started a new job, I am still getting used to the place and finding random pieces of equipment in the kitchen, one of these things was a mini doughnut maker. Having never made doughnuts before and didn't fancy messing about with 200 degree oil and burning the place down, I borrowed it for the weekend.
To fit the theme, I adapted the basic doughnut recipe from the instruction book in order to make these lovely things:

Ginger and Cinnamon Doughnuts
175g Self Raising Flour
2 tsp Baking powder
125g Caster Sugar
1tsp Ground Ginger
1tsp Ground Cinnamon
50g Glace ginger
1 Large egg
135ml Milk
50g Melted butter.

Preheat the doughnut maker for 5 minutes
Mix the dry ingredients including the glace ginger together in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre and add the liquid ingredients together, beat together until smooth.
Add a teaspoon of the mixture into each section and close the lid, leave for around 3 minutes until golden brown. Repeat until mixture is used up.

Chocolate dip
Melt the chocolate either in the microwave of over a pan of simmering water.
once melted remove from the heat and stir in the cream until combined.


Very tasty but then how can doughnuts with chocolate not be? especially with the excellent partners of ginger and cinnamon.

Wednesday 9 November 2011

Spiced Citrus Bean Soup - A Random Recipe

This months random recipe challenge was a little easier than last months global challenge, which involved me hiding under a duvet until the images of the dreaded ingredient went away. This month was a collaboration between Dom from Belleau Kitchen and Jac from Tinned Tomatoes who have teamed up to do a joint soup challenge.
After scouring my recipe books I appeared to be a bit thin on the ground with soup recipes, so I thought I would attempt it another way. I went to BBC Good Food and typed in soup. I then went to a random number generator and received the random number: 78. So off I went to scour the listings, hoping for a proper winter warmer, a quality soup that would be right up my street, maybe a nice minestroney style soup.....but no. Result number 78 was Spiced Citrus Bean Soup...*sighs*...ah well it might be nice.

Spiced Citrus Bean Soup
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
450g Carrots, roughly chopped
1 tbsp garam masala
finger length of fresh root ginger, grated
juice of one orange
1L vegetable stock
200ml can reduced fat coconut milk
410g mixed beans, drained, rinsed
2 tbsp coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
Gently cook the onions and carrots for 15 minutes until soft and golden.
Add the garam masala and ginger, cook for a further minute.
Add the juice and stock then bring to the boil.
Simmer for ten minutes until the carrots are tender then stir in the coconut milk.
Puree until smooth then stir in the beans.
Add the coriander and serve.

Never again shall I judge a book by it's cover...or a soup by its name in this case. Turns out it was blooming lovely. Nice mix and balance of flavours brought together by creaminess of the coconut and perfect for this time of year. The recipe states to use reduced fat coconut milk but the normal stuff works just as well. I'll definitely be making this again.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Fig Custard Tart

Last weekend I went to borough Market in London. For those of you that are unacquainted with this market basically it's heaven on earth for a food lover. Honestly I wandered around in a slight daze for the first hour, before slightly coming round to enjoy a cup of fine coffee and fresh oysters for breakfast while deciding what I wanted to buy from this wonderful place. One of the stalls had a pyramid of fresh fat figs for a reasonable price of 5 for £2. Most of what I bought got eaten as they were but I saved a few to add to this tart...yes its another tart, honestly I'll cook something different eventually....maybe...erm...

Anyway, custard tart. One of my all time favourites, I've been eating this since time began. Once for a birthday instead of a cake I requested a custard tart a lemon meringue pie and a batch of mince pies (my birthday is in May) so I thought I would make one with the addition of figs to see how it would work together.

210g Plain flour
35g icing sugar
125g cold butter, cubed
1 egg yolk
2 tsp of water
1 egg white (to brush the cooked case)

70g golden caster sugar
2 large eggs
150ml cream
150ml whole milk
Vanilla pod and seeds or use 1 tsp extract
As many figs as you like, halved and trimmed to just below the pastry line.

Mix the flour and sugar together, add the butter.
Rub the butter into the flour gently between your fingertips until mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
Add the yolk and water and mix together.
Using you hands bring together the mix into a dough ball, don't overwork.
Wrap tightly in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30mins to an hour.

Get two sheets of cling film, spread one across the work surface, place the dough in the middle and spread the other sheet over the top.
Roll out gently in between the two sheets of cling film (this method stops any excess flour being added to the pastry and drying it out).
Remove the top layer and using the bottom layer drape the pastry into a 26cm fluted tart tin.
Press gently into the tart tin and using a rolling pin roll across the top to trim off the edges.
Push the edges up a couple of millimetres to compensate for shrinkage.

Gently press a layer of foil into the tin and fill with baking beans.
Bake in a preheated oven (180C, fan) for 15 minutes.
Remove the foil and beans and bake for another 15 minutes or until golden brown
Remove from oven and brush with egg white to create a waterproof layer.
Turn the oven down to 130C (fan)

Prepare the figs, trim off the tips and slice in half and trim until it's just below the pastry line. Arrange in the pastry case as you like.
Whisk the sugar with the eggs
Bring to the boil the cream, milk and vanilla in a saucepan.
Add to the eggs whilst whisking constantly.
Sieve into a jug

Pour into the pastry case around the figs and grate over some nutmeg.
Place very carefully into the oven and bake for around 40 minutes until the filling gives only a slight tremor when shook.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.


Very nice. Lovely crisp pastry with soft sweet custard complemented with juicy baked fig, can't go wrong.


Saturday 29 October 2011

Scallop (and Squid) with Fennel and Rocket - a Random Recipe

Squid....why did it have to be squid. of all the ingredients on this earth (and sea) it had to be squid.

This months random recipe challenge at Belleau Kitchen was a stroke of genius evil. Instead of being trusted to pick our own random recipe, this month someone else had to pick it, namely another food blogger. Seriously how am i meant to chea...take part honestly with all this suspicion floating around. I can just imagine our host sitting there watching us all whilst stroking a white cat and sniggering evily.

So then on with the challenge, I was paired with Lucy at the Kitchen-maid blog, 12,000 miles away in New Zealand, after a few tweets I ended up with James Martin's  My Kitchen recipe book and then ended up with his scallop and squid salad.

Now its quite appropriate that this was a James Martin recipe because this dish encompasses my heaven and hell foods and if you watch Saturday Kitchen you will know what I mean. But I was commited to braving it and getting on with recipe....then i went to the fishmonger.....

...and there it was glistening, slippery and slimy with its gelatinous eye staring at me from its icy pit, tentacles waiting to strangle me to death if I even attempted to buy I bought some scallops and legged it.

Fine I'm a wuss but I couldnt ruin some quality scallops with squid and it tasted very nice without it.

Scallops, Fennel and Rocket salad

2 small fennel bulbs
8 large scallops
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
75g rocket

20g dill, chopped
15g parsley, chopped
15g coriander, chopped
zest and juice of 2 limes
1 chili, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp allspice
75ml extra virgin olive oil

Slice off the root and thinly slice the fennel bulbs, place into a large bowl.
Prepare and mix the dressing ingredients together and set aside.

The book is a bit vague on how to cook scallops properly, this is the best way I've read on how to cook them:

Heat a pan to a very high temperature
Drizzle the scallops with oil and season, make sure they are well coated and then place the scallops in the pan one at a time in a circle around the side of pan, start a timer when the first one goes in.
Once one and a half minutes passes, turn over the first one you placed in the pan and then turn over each scallop in the same order they went in.
Once another minute and a half passes then remove the first one you put in and so on... this should ensure they are all cooked evenly and for the same length of time and should help you keep track.

Add the scallops to the fennel along with the rocket and dressing
Toss together to make sure all are well coated.

Serve and enjoy

Honey Roasted Spare Ribs

Ribs are the ultimate finger food, all dignity is thrown out of the window when eating them but that's part of the charm and fun. Catching up with Sir Nigel's new programme this recipe shouted out to me and having nothing much better to do I went for a wander to pick up these epic pork ribs. There is more meat than bone on these beauties. This is why you should buy from a proper butcher. 

Honey Roast Ribs 
6 Tbsp Honey
3 Tbsp Oyster Sauce
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 ground black pepper
4 whole star anise
1.5 kg meaty pork ribs (about 12ish)

Add the honey, oyster sauce, chili salt and black pepper to a roasting dish, mix up to form the marinade.
Add the ribs to the dish and coat well in the marinade.
Cover and leave for a minimum of 2 hours or preferably overnight.
Roast in a pre heated oven at 160C for 90 minutes. Turn the ribs occasionally.
once the 90 is up turn up the heat to 200 for 15 minutes. Watch very carefully because they can burn quickly at this heat
Once the sauce is sticky and the ribs are nicely charred then remove from the oven.

Serve with a knife and fork.......yeah right get stuck in and if your face and hands are not covered when you are done then you didn't eat them right.

Friday 21 October 2011

Creamy Chicken and Chorizo pasta

For tonights tea, I decided to raid my fridge and cupboards and create something using what I could find. For once the only thing in my fridge was not various packs of butter with a small amount left in them after another baking exploit.
I found: chorizo, chilis, cream and mushrooms. So with a tin of tomatoes, a bit of chicken from the freezer and the odd onion lazing around in the back of cupboard, I threw the lot in a pan and made this rather tasty pasta dish.

Creamy Chicken and Chorizo pasta.
1 onion, diced
1 tin of tomatoes
1 chicken breast, diced
1 red chili, (roughly chopped)
3-4 chestnut mushrooms
100g cooking chorizo
2 tbsp cream
100g(ish) wholemeal pasta

Fry the onion, chili and chozizo for a couple of minutes until softened.
Add the chicken and cook for a few minutes until cooked through.
Add the mushroom and cook for a few more minutes.
Add the tin of tomtoes along with a splash of water and seasoning and simmer gently for around 20 minutes, add a splash more of water if it becomes too dry.
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the cream.

Now do as all good Italians do and add the pasta to the sauce, not the other way around.
Mix it up so its all well combined


Thursday 20 October 2011

Sheffield Supper Club

Bit of a delayed blog this one due to the event taking place at the end of August just before I shimmied across the country and started a new job and thus completely slipping my mind to write it.

The Sheffield supper club is a recent addition addition to the supper club scene and currently the only one in Sheffield, hosted by Komal (@sweetkomal) a chef at the Fusion organic cafe in Sheffield.

As is becoming customary in these expeditions to secret locations, we spent 10 minutes wandering around before braving knocking on a door hoping that it was the correct one, fortunately it was and we were warmly greeted and shown to our dining area, to await our other diners.

The theme for this event was a taste of Spain


Various tapas including Calameres with Aioli, Patatas Bravas, Tortilla and Pan con tomate.

Paella with Ensalata 

Churros with Hot chocolate dipping sauce.
As you can see from the pictures, the food looked and was delicious. The paella took me straight back to Barcelona and was very very morish. My personal favourite however was the churros with melted chocolate, soft, warm, sugary, slightly spicy from the cinnamon and with a pot of delicious melted chocolate, you just can't ask for more from a pudding.
Overall the night was excellent. The time just blazed by, we arrived at 7 and left around 11 o clock, full of good food and having met many new interesting people. 
Keep an eye out at   for details of the next one.

Tuesday 18 October 2011

Chorizo and Broad Bean Risotto

I'm not normally a fan of risottos but this recipe from Good Food drew me in and practically forced me to cook it. I blame the chorizo, I love the stuff. beautiful in a rich tomato sauce or simply eaten with a platter of good cheese, bread and of course wine.
This recipe is like any good risotto should be; rich, creamy and with the added spice of the chorizo, perfect on a crisp autumn evening.

Chorizo and Broad Bean Risotto
1tbsp olive oil
100g smoked bacon, diced
2 shallots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
350g small cooking chorizo, diced
300g risotto rice
1 litre hot chicken stock
300g frozen broad beans

Heat the oil in a medium sized pan then add the bacon, shallots, garlic and chorizo.
Cook gently for about 8 minutes
Add the rice and coat with the cooking juices.
Add just enough stock to cover the rice and bring to a simmer
Gently cook until absorbed
Continue adding a ladle at a time and gently cook.
Just before the final ladle, stir in the beans and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Serve and enjoy.

Sunday 9 October 2011

Chocolate Chili Souffle

A blogger challenge that I've been following and reading for awhile is the We should cocoa challenge hosted by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog and Chelle at the Chocolate Teapot, both excellent blogs and well worth a read. The We should cocoa challenge is a challenge based around chocolate and a special ingredient, previous ingredients have included rose and apricot to name a couple. This months challenge was chili so for once I thought I'd enter.

Chocolate and chili are one of the greatest flavour combos dating back to the Aztecs and Mayans. I'd previously had a venture into chocolate/chili with a cake I made ages ago so obviously I couldn't do that again. I had been wanting to make souffle for a while now and this recipe is not quite a proper one, I'm working my way there. According to BBC Food these are more sturdy than normal souffles.

The recipe used is for a basic chocolate souffle which I have adapted to encompass this months special ingredient...

Chocolate Chili Souffle
Ingredients (makes 3)

100g Dark chocolate
75g butter plus a little for greasing
3 eggs
85g caster sugar
60g Plain flour
Half a red chili, finely chopped

Heat the oven to 180C/160c (fan)
Butter 3 ramekins or cups like i did
Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bowl over a pan of simmering water
Beat the eggs with sugar until fluffy and light
Add the chili to the flour
Fold in the flour/chili and then the chocolate mixture
Divide between the ramekins, the mixture can be now put in the fridge for later if you like
Bake for 8-12 minutes until the souffle rises and a crust forms, the middle should be still slightly gooey
Serve with cream


sooooo good, rich, dark, chocolaty with little kicks of chili, beautiful.